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Virginia R. Allan papers

Identifier: 018.VRA

Scope and Contents

The Virginia Allan papers include a variety of materials created and collected by Virginia R. Allan. The papers have been arranged in one series RESEARCH FILES and one sub-series of newspaper clippings. The RESEARCH FILES series includes information pertaining to women’s issues including abortion, child care, education, employment, equal rights, court proceedings and legal research, activism, poverty, publications, speeches and speech materials, and newspaper clippings. Also included are materials related to various women’s and equal rights organization that Allan served: Citizen’s Advisory on the Status of Women, Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, Intercollegiate Association of Women Students, Inter-American Commission of Women, and the National Federation of Business and Professional Women.

Research materials are a mix of photographs, newsletters, correspondence, newspaper clippings, conference proceedings, and notes.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1964 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the University Archives.

Biographical / Historical

Virginia Allan was born on October 21, 1916 in Wyandotte, Michigan. She earned her A.B. in 1939 and M.A. in 1945, both from the University of Michigan, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. She spent some time working on a World War II assembly line and then began her career as an educator. She worked as an English teacher in both the Dearborn and Detroit school systems. Allan created the Job Upgrading Program, designed to help drop-outs either return to school or find gainful employment. After establishing four upgrading centers, Allan as appointed assistant principal of Redford High School. In 1955 she left teaching to become co-owner and executive vie-president of Cahan Drug Stores, Inc. in Wyandotte.

In the 1960s, Allan became active in the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. She served as membership chair, third, second, and first vice-president, and then in 1964 as president. As an advocate for women’s rights, Allan supported and encouraged the role of women in the business world. She helped organize the National Federation’s Young Career Women’s Program, participated in numerous women’s leadership conferences, and originated the concept of a national network of State Commissions on the Status of Women. In 19642, Allan was appoint a Regent of Eastern Michigan University, a position she held until 1974.

In 1969, Allan was named chair of President Nixon’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities. She also served eight years on the Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women. In 1972, she was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, where she served until the Carter administration. During her five years in the Department of State, Allan was a strong proponent of human rights, especially the rights of women, both nationally and internationally. In her official capacity she helped found and support the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year (1975) and the Decade for Women (1975-85). This was part of her more general responsibility to foster public/private cooperation in U.S. foreign relations. Allan served both as liaison with Nongovernmental Organizations for the International Women's Year Commission, and as member of the First United Nations World Conference for IWY which met in Mexico City in 1975. Allan later attended both the Mid-Decade Conference for Women in 1980 in Copenhagen (as an NGO representative), and the World Conference of the U.N. Decade for Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985. Allan was the only person to have attended all three of the UN World Conferences on Women. A tireless worker while in the State Department, Allan was also a delegate to UN Seminars on Women's Economic Participation in their Countries in 1970 in Moscow and in 1973 in Libreville, Gabon.

From 1977 to 1983, Allan accepted a position as special assistant to the dean for women's studies at George Washington University where a scholarship fund in her name was established to promote the study of women's issues. During her years at George Washington University, she organized a series of seminars and fundraisers which focused on the achievements of working women worldwide. In the early 1980s she was also an advocate of gender equality in education as the co-chair of the Citizen's Committee on Women's Education and as the shadow president of National Coalition for Woman and Girls in Education. In the 1980s she was the president of the U.S. Committee for the UN Fund for Women, Inc. (UNIFEM).

Allan has received many honors during her life, including a place in the Michigan Woman's Hall of Fame, which she helped found; honorary doctorates from Olivet College, Eastern Michigan University, and Central Michigan University. She was also a participant in the Old Masters Program at Purdue University in 1964. Allan retired in 1993. She died on August 8, 1999 in Sarasota, Florida. – Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


4.63 Linear Feet (4 records center cartons, 1 archive box, 1 half size archive box)

Language of Materials



Virginia R. Allan was involved in women's rights and other political movements pertaining to equality. She holds an honorary doctorate from Eastern Michigan University and served as regent of EMU from 1964 to 1974.

Related Materials

The Virginia R. Allan papers can be found at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Virginia R. Allan papers
Brooke Boyst
2021 March 2
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197